Route 614: Can (or Should) It Be Saved?

The Metropolitan Council is proposing to eliminate Route 614, which operates Monday-Friday between Ridgedale Mall and apartment complexes in Minnetonka Heights (just north of County Road 101 and Townline Road/Highway 62). Frequency of this route is around every hour. The first northbound bus leaves at 5:16 AM, and the last northbound bus leaves at 5:35 PM. The first southbound bus leaves at 6:35 AM, and the last southbound bus leaves at 6:30 PM.

From Metropolitan Council ridership data, the approximate average weekday ridership of Route 614 was 54 riders in 2013, 57 riders in 2014, 78 riders in 2015, and 35 riders in 2016. There is no data for 2017, but with 5 passengers per in-service hour as of 2018 this means the average weekday ridership is around 65 riders. Serving a mostly auto-dependent and transit-hostile area, can Route 614 be saved and should it be saved?

Ride Along

I’ve known about Route 614 and its low ridership for a few years, and I didn’t expect the route to survive this long. I’ve wanted to try this route, and with its possible elimination now was the time to try it.

I arrived at Ridgedale Mall on Route 645 from Minneapolis, and with 50 minutes before the 614 would depart I went inside to stay warm and kill time. When the time came the small Ford minibus pulled up to the curb and one other passenger and I boarded. I overheard the other passenger mention to the bus driver that this was her first time taking this route. Just south of Highway 7 on County Road 101 the other passenger got off and walked down a side street. A little while later we pulled into the Minnetonka Heights apartment complex that marked the southern terminus, and about five minutes later we headed back north. A person stood on a snowbank next to the bus stop for Highway 7 & County Road 101, and proceeding to board she nearly slipped on the ice along the curb. Then another rider got on just north of Highway 7 & County Road 101 with a bag of groceries, and a short time later that passenger got off. At Minnetonka Boulevard & Williston Road three riders got on, and all of us got off at Ridgedale Mall. About 15 minutes later the eastbound Route 645 bus arrived and I headed back home.

Screen Shot 2019 02 24 At 11.36.32 Am

Above: The bus stop for Ridgedale Mall. While waiting for the bus outside in the summer can be pleasant, during the winter there were a few people including myself waiting inside the entrance to the mall before our buses arrived.

“We’ve Tried Everything”

Route 614’s potential elimination made it onto the Star Tribune, and Metropolitan Council member Jennifer Munt said “we’ve tried everything to keep this route alive.” That includes handing out free ride passes and marketing the route. What else they have tried I don’t know, but perhaps instead of phrasing it as “tried everything” it should be phrased more as they tried as much as they wanted to do to keep this underperforming suburban local route alive. Obviously Route 614 is nowhere near the most important route in the transit system, and saving it appears to not be a high priority. However before cutting this route, I think it’s important to study what its strengths and weaknesses are, and how those weaknesses can change.

While Route 614 may appear to have only weaknesses, it does have strengths despite being a short and infrequent local route in a low density and car-centric area. It serves a few areas that can attract riders; Ridgedale Mall and the southern area around the mall, the 7-Hi shopping complex at Highway 7 & County Road 101, a few affordable housing complexes at the southern terminus, Minnetonka City Hall, and a small light-industrial area near Minnetonka Boulevard & Williston Road. For recreation Route 614 can take you to the Lake Minnetonka LRT Regional Trail.

For weaknesses there are several including the obvious low-density and car-centric area it serves. The area also has many affluent residents who likely would not take the bus (though they can feel free to prove me wrong). There are many segments along the route with no sidewalk, so riders have to walk through grass, mud, or in winter snow as I saw one rider do. The last mile issue certainly applies to Route 614 as besides Ridgedale Mall most areas require walking at least two city blocks. In some instances riders must walk through a sea of parking to reach actual destinations.

While frequency isn’t the best, it’s appropriate for this type of route. However, the frequency isn’t exactly one hour; for example the northbound schedule shows the second bus of the day leaving 46 minutes after the first, then 1 hour 9 minutes, 1 hour 4 minutes, etc. Having a frequency of exactly one hour can help potential riders better understand the schedule and feel more confident in trying the bus. The span of service should also be at least two hours later for evening commuters.

Better Timing of Transfers

Most important for Route 614 is the schedule, which needs to be timed for convenient transfers at Ridgedale Mall to/from Route 645, the limited-stop service along the I-394 Corridor between Minneapolis and Wayzata with limited service further west to/from Mound.

Transfers from Route 614 to westbound Route 645 operating to Wayzata Park & Ride or Mound:

The early morning connections are long, then become reasonable, and then in the afternoon are tight but doable. The last connection of the evening is a slightly long wait.

Transfers from Route 614 to eastbound Route 645:

The early morning buses allow for a quick connection assuming the 645 drivers are instructed to wait for connecting passengers from the 614; otherwise it’s a long wait for the next connection. The late morning and noon buses allow for convenient transfer. Two afternoon trips have a slightly long wait for the next connection, and then the next two trips during the afternoon rush hour have a convenient transfer. The last trip has a long wait for the next connection.

Transfers from westbound Route 645 to Route 614:

The early and late morning 645 arrivals require a slightly long wait for the next 614 departures. The next few trips have a convenient transfer window, and then connections become tight and a late arrival of the 645 would require a long wait for the next 614 or missing the last 614 departure of the evening.

Transfers from eastbound Route 645 coming from Wayzata Park & Ride or Mound to Route 614:

The first three morning arrivals have a convenient transfer window to the 614, but the rest of the arrivals have a long transfer time.

The main priority is to have convenient transfers from northbound 614 to eastbound 645, and from westbound 645 to southbound 614. The current schedule doesn’t fully achieve that goal, and the 614 schedule should be changed to have better connectivity with the 645. While the 614 frequency would not be exactly one hour as recommended above, having a convenient transfer is more important. Increasing the frequency of the 645 and in the long term having rapid transit along the I-394 Corridor would allow convenient transfer to/from all Route 614 departures/arrivals.

Walking Infrastructure Upgrades

To save Route 614 and attract significantly more riders there needs to be much better pedestrian infrastructure along the route. This would not only provide better accessibility to Route 614, but also make the area along the route more walkable.

Along County Road 101 between Hutchins Drive and Highway 7 a sidewalk is needed on the east side of the road (this is the area where the one passenger had to stand on a snowbank and nearly slipped on the ice boarding the bus). The new sidewalk should continue north to Cub Foods where it would connect with an existing sidewalk. Continuing north, a new sidewalk is needed along the west side of County Road 101 between Ridgewood Drive and Manor Road.

Along Minnetonka Boulevard sidewalks are needed on both sides of the road between Woodlawn Avenue/Groveland Lane and Williston Road. On Plymouth Road sidewalks are needed on both sides of the road between McGinty Road and Hilloway Road. On the north side of Ridgedale Drive a sidewalk is needed between Plymouth Road and Wayzata Boulevard (the south frontage road for I-394). Along all of these roads there needs to be more designated crosswalks.

As is often the case in suburbs and even in parts of the urban core, sidewalks aren’t plowed for a long period after a snowstorm or they aren’t plowed at all. Sidewalks and bus stops need to be cleared to give people confidence in using the bus and keeping existing riders in the winter.

Route Upgrades

As was already mentioned, some of the areas Route 614 serves have a sea of parking. For routes like this it’s common for buses to pull up to the entrance of a department store or grocery store so riders don’t have to walk a far distance. For the 7-Hi Shopping Center, specifically the Cub Foods and Target, this should be done. While this adds a few turns and a significant amount of time, the purpose of bus routes like Route 614 is accessibility, particularly for the elderly and disabled who depend on public transit but can’t walk long distances. West of Ridgedale Mall Route 614 should also directly serve Lunds & Byerlys among other stores via Ridgedale Drive.

Screen Shot 2019 02 25 At 6.58.15 Am

Above: Westbound Route 539 pulls up to the Cub Foods in West Bloomington. This is one of several examples in the Bloomington and Edina area of suburban local buses driving through the sea of parking to directly serve destinations.

Route 614 ends at the border with Eden Prairie, and could easily be extended south to serve Eden Prairie Center and Southwest Station (the Eden Prairie transit hub for opt-out operator SouthWest Transit). Route 614 would then serve major destinations at both ends instead of ending at apartments. This would have no negative impact on SouthWest Transit’s operations as their focus is express service to Downtown Minneapolis. Extending Route 614 could actually benefit them with more connecting riders to/from their express bus routes. For this extension there would need to be additional buses and drivers, bus stop signs installed in Eden Prairie, and marketing the route. Between Townline Road/Highway 62 and Southwest Station the proposed route for this extension currently has three eastbound and four westbound express bus trips between Eden Prairie and Downtown Minneapolis.

Conclusion

Route 614 can be saved, and for the purpose of making suburbs a little more accessible via transit I believe it should be saved and at the very least the sidewalk improvements should be implemented in the near term. However I do recommend some sort of route extension to Eden Prairie as this would provide a good north-south local service in the west metro and bridge the gap between the operator territories of Metro Transit and SouthWest Transit.

Instead of cutting more routes and service, the Metropolitan Council should be trying to find ways to improve a route before cutting or abandoning it. If Route 614 is cut, it should certainly be brought back when Route 645 receives a frequency increase (every 15 minutes most of the day), which could happen in the near term (within the next 5 years). In the long term (10+ years) rapid transit along the I-394 Corridor should be implemented, and Route 614 would have a much better chance at surviving.

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41 Responses to Route 614: Can (or Should) It Be Saved?

  1. Luke Van Santen
    Luke Van Santen March 7, 2019 at 11:29 am #

    With some (slight) changes (different from the good ideas in the post) this route should be retained / saved.

    One of the changes would be a southbound route that gets to 101 & Old Excelsior Blvd at 0730-0740 so MHS students could ride and alleviate the horrendous dropoff crush in the AM. Heck, a slight route tweak off 101 could have it drop right at the new flashing crosswalk right by the school!

    Another change would be the corresponding northbound route in the afternoon. Have it pick up at MHS or the current spot (grassy area south of 7 along 101) at 3pm (MHS / school gets out at 2:40pm). Pickup crush is even worse than the morning dropoff.

    Coordination with the MHS activity schedule could help, too.

    There’s also a nice little commercial district at 101 & Minnetonka Blvd where this route stops (Lakewinds Coop, hardware store, restaurants, Great Harvest Bread, etc).

  2. John Charles Wilson March 7, 2019 at 1:05 pm #

    Another possible improvement: extend to downtown Excelsior and run on weekends, especially in the summer.

    • Bill Lindeke
      Bill Lindeke March 7, 2019 at 1:30 pm #

      There’s an interesting notion…

    • Luke Van Santen
      Luke Van Santen March 7, 2019 at 4:12 pm #

      Excelsior would be way out of the way for this route? It is certainly a great summer destination, but…

      • John Charles Wilson March 7, 2019 at 4:30 pm #

        Any more out of the way than Eden Prairie Center?

        • Eric Ecklund March 7, 2019 at 5:13 pm #

          I feel like Eden Prairie would attract more riders than Excelsior, especially if it serves Eden Prairie Center.

  3. Alex Schieferdecker
    Alex Schieferdecker March 7, 2019 at 1:21 pm #

    Not it should not be saved.

    The opportunity cost of this bus and driver’s time is substantial. There are twenty to thirty other bus routes in the region that could desperately use another bus every hour.

    Would be great if Metro Transit would start cutting out most of these terrible suburb-to-suburb routes that nobody rides.

    • Bill Lindeke
      Bill Lindeke March 7, 2019 at 1:31 pm #

      I am with Alex on this. Routes like this are first against the wall.

    • Eric Ecklund March 7, 2019 at 4:12 pm #

      “…nobody rides”. So 65 riders is nobody to you? I’m sure they really appreciate it.

      Also this is a decision by the Metropolitan Council, not Metro Transit. The routes are contracted out to private operators.

      There are suburb-to-suburb routes that are more successful and necessary for the transit system, so I hope you don’t think “most” of these routes have 0 riders.

      • Matt Steele
        Matt Steele March 7, 2019 at 4:22 pm #

        When compared to routes like the 16 or the 21 that literally have hundreds of times the daily ridership than the 614, the distinction between 65 riders and 0 riders is nearly imperceptible?

        https://streets.mn/2018/06/26/chart-of-the-day-2017-metro-transit-routes/

        • Eric Ecklund March 7, 2019 at 5:20 pm #

          We’re not talking about the 16 or 21, we’re talking about the 614 and the people who use it. However you bring up a good point, how many people who use the 614 also use an urban route like the 16 or 21?

          Also pretty sure the 16 doesn’t have many riders since the Green Line opened. The cuts to the route suggest that anyway.

          • Aaron Isaacs March 7, 2019 at 8:23 pm #

            Route 16 still carries about 2000 riders per day.

            • Matt Steele
              Matt March 8, 2019 at 10:54 am #

              I meant Route 18, but I’m glad my typo pointed out that even a route that was largely replaced by a light rail line still has ridership that blows the 614 out of the water.

          • Alex Schieferdecker
            Alex Schieferdecker March 8, 2019 at 8:15 am #

            But the urban routes matter, because resources that are spent on low-ridership suburb to suburb routes are resources that could have otherwise been spent serving far greater numbers of people.

            The Met Council/Metro Transit should be more concerned with providing the kind of high frequency service that allows people in transit-supportive places to live car-free (and cities should be making sure that more people can live in these places, which is what Minneapolis is doing) than it should be trying to provide everywhere to everywhere service coverage in places that are fundamentally hostile to transit.

            • Eric Ecklund March 8, 2019 at 2:10 pm #

              So we should just abandon the suburbs and hope residents and employers move closer to the urban core? Not going to happen. Minneapolis and St. Paul may be the center of our region, but other parts of the region also have importance.

              • Alex Schieferdecker
                Alex Schieferdecker March 8, 2019 at 2:18 pm #

                That’s not what I said.

                • Eric Ecklund March 9, 2019 at 1:38 pm #

                  Then what are you trying to say? Just because they cut this route doesn’t mean they’re moving resources to an urban route. There could be no change to any route, or another local suburban route receives extra service.

      • Brian March 7, 2019 at 8:00 pm #

        I’m pretty certain there are routes where a single run has 65 riders.

    • Sean Hayford Oleary
      Sean Hayford Oleary March 7, 2019 at 4:19 pm #

      This is kind a callous take for suburban residents who depend on transit — a smaller proportion than central city residents, but a minority that deserves some level of service without a car.

      What I like about this article is less that it’s a great case for this particular route, and more that it’s a catalog of all the subtle ways we undermine transit in the suburbs. Build twice as much (free) parking as needed, to the point where it’s a 10 minute walk from the sidewalk to the destination. Build a 5-lane 45 mph stroad and then somehow don’t have any ROW left for a sidewalk. Establish minimum lot size, maximum height, maximum du/acre, and find you don’t have enough people to take a bus to make it viable.

      These are predictable outcomes. So whether we should spend money to fix this route is an important question, but the even more important one is why do we spend so much money to create the problem?

      • Lou Miranda March 7, 2019 at 6:31 pm #

        Yeah, I agree with Sean’s points.
        This is the old Ridership vs. Coverage dilemma. Many people here will know what that is, but if you don’t here is an excellent article on it:
        https://humantransit.org/basics/the-transit-ridership-recipe

        Ultimately, this becomes a planning issue, a transportation issue, a land use issue, a regional issue, and—pertinent in this year of comprehensive plans—a comp plan issue.

        To answer the question of whether this line gets saved, we need answers to questions like:
        • What percentage of transit money does the Met Council/Metro Transit spend on these suburban lines?
        • Are we considering the issue of human equity, such as a new-ish trend of more well-to-do people moving towards the core, and less well-to-do people moving out into the suburbs?
        • What about lower paying jobs, which are also moving out of the core? This may sound like jobs and employees are moving to the same places, but remember the further out of the core you move, the less dense it is and the further things are away from each other.
        • What are the county(ies) and cities along this route doing about land use & transportation? Is density being encouraged in specific places? Is affordable housing in those same places? Are there sidewalks and bikeways in those same places (for the “last mile”)?
        • What do the comp plans for these cities show them doing over time? Increasing allowable density? Increasing mobility options?

        One expects that the Met Council has addressed some or all of these questions when deciding on this route.

        • Alex Schieferdecker
          Alex Schieferdecker March 8, 2019 at 8:31 am #

          I don’t disagree with most of what Sean said, but I want to emphasize from his comment and the article that the problems with this route are not the fault of the transit operator. The urban design and land use fundamentally do not support transit service.We all agree on this, but we disagree on what to do about it.

          My takeaway is that the Met Council/Metro Transit should not waste significant resources on providing transit in these areas. When Sean writes about spending money to “fix” this route, we should acknowledge that’s largely impossible, it would take millions and millions of dollars to correct all of the urban design and land use mistakes made along this route, and that money comes with a huge opportunity cost.

          That’s the key factor here, the opportunity cost. Every single decision that the agency makes about where to apportion resources has a trade-off and someone will be affected. Which is more callous, canceling an already poor transit service that is used by a couple dozen people per day? Or running too few #18 buses, resulting in people watching their bus pass them by because it is too full to accept more passengers?

          At some point, providing service simply isn’t worth it. If you ran a bus from Maple Grove to the outlet stores of Albertville, I’m sure someone would ride it. But it wouldn’t be worth it to Metro Transit to provide that service.

          The best solution to this issue is to spend our limited resources where they go the furthest. That means providing high frequency transit in the areas that were initially built to support it (not just Minneapolis and St. Paul, but in many first ring suburbs as well), and allowing more dense uses in these areas to prevent the suburbanization of poverty and the suburbanization of jobs.

          • Sean Hayford Oleary
            Sean Hayford Oleary March 8, 2019 at 9:47 am #

            To be clear: I am not proposing a multimillion dollar blitz to fix everything wrong here in one fell swoop. I am just saying cities can (and should) stop making it so bad, especially when no real cost exists to make it more transit-oriented. This is an incremental process, just as the process to get it where it is today was incremental.

            You can absolutely replace parking minimums with parking maximums. You can require (at a bare minimum) pedestrian circulation through parking lots. You could require (if perhaps a tougher sell for private developers) zero-lot-line and other features that, as land is developed, make it more transit-ready.

            And you can certainly consider the opportunity of excessive spending for motorists and how that money might be used to make a more valuable, more dignified, and more pedestrian-oriented street. There are sections of Plymouth Road with 5 lanes + a center turn lane + a median and no sidewalk. The intersections are designed with land-hogging “Bloomington rights” that also degrade the pedestrian experience.

            Making an unwalkable environment can be justified because “nobody walks” (except for those who do). But it’s a choice to spend resources that actively make that option worse, and actively promote more driving. It’s not a choice they need to make.

            • Alex Schieferdecker
              Alex Schieferdecker March 8, 2019 at 10:10 am #

              I certainly agree that suburban municipalities with urban design and land use that is so completely devoted to the car should take steps to change that paradigm.

              I just don’t think that Metro Transit ought to be spending resources on them until they take those steps and those steps start having an effect.

              • Tim March 8, 2019 at 10:39 am #

                But then you are just setting up a self-fulfilling prophecy. I understand your argument, but I think most suburbs will just stick with the status quo if they’re left out of transit networks. And ultimately, that will just make the overall situation worse for funding.

                • Sean Hayford Oleary
                  Sean Hayford Oleary March 8, 2019 at 10:47 am #

                  This. Also worth remembering that Minnetonka is in Hennepin County and pays Hennepin County transit sales tax. If all suburbs (or even all second-ring-and-beyond suburbs) are left out of the transit funding equation, it becomes tough to maintain political support for these things.

                  Only a third of Hennepin County lives in Minneapolis. I think we all have an interest in appropriate, high-quality transit even if we both live and work in other communities. But it’s a very easy political thing to take advantage of in the suburbs to point to Minneapolis getting all the benefits while everyone else pays.

                  • Matt Steele
                    Matt Steele March 8, 2019 at 10:53 am #

                    But this becomes a self-fulfilling prophesy even more… asking for transit funding that funds low-use transit, always needing far more funding for little more benefit.

                  • Alex Schieferdecker
                    Alex Schieferdecker March 8, 2019 at 12:16 pm #

                    This isn’t an honest reading of what I’m saying. It’s not Minneapolis vs everywhere else, There are a lot of suburban neighborhoods, especially in the first ring, where transit is justifiable because the urban design and land use (while usually far from ideal) are enough to support it. Even some suburb to suburb routes might make some sense, I wouldn’t categorically rule it out.

                    The question is, given limited resources, how should the region spend transit dollars? My opinion is that those dollars are best spent where they go the furthest. That’s in places with transit-supportive land use and design, wherever they are.

                    It’s clearly true that political considerations dictate that some percentage of funds be used in order to provide coverage to areas that do not have transit supportive land use and design but pay for it through the sales tax. That’s inevitable, but it is not inevitable that those funds should be used on suburb-to-suburb service that serves fewer people in a day than are lined up each morning at Al’s Breakfast. And those routes should not be justified in perpetuity because they are used by someone.

                    Transit service is not a magic wand, it cannot create the land use and design conditions that will make it successful, especially if the area is already built in a transit-hostile way. It is not in Metro Transit’s power to make the land use and design changes that would help it succeed. It’s not incumbent on transit to make the first move here.

                    The final key point to make is that everyone in the metro benefits from transit, whether they use it or not. Transit is a vital service that makes urban agglomerations and their economic prosperity possible. It reduces greenhouse gas and air pollution emissions. It allows for denser development which results in more land value for taxation.

                  • Cobo R March 9, 2019 at 7:17 pm #

                    Yeah… As a non Minneapolis Hennepin county resident I have to agree…

                    I live on a suburb to suburb bus route that is useless to me but I appreciate it because it is usefull to people in my neighborhood (mostly the elderly and lower income ones). It uses one of the smaller busses (Van?) and seems to have a decent amount of riders on the few times I’ve taken it.

                    These routes are a delicate balance, Most Hennepin county residents only go into to Minneapolis a few times a year and we need to see transit as something useful to other people, but don’t want needless waste… Sounds crazy but thats how politics work.

                    For example if public transit stopped it wouldn’t affect my life at all. I support funding it because it helps other people in my neighborhood, and many more.

                    If visibility goes away, apathy sets in.

      • Brian March 7, 2019 at 8:05 pm #

        I suspect the sidewalk issue is not a lack of ROW. I suspect the issue is really lack of funding and desire. Government planners look at the seas of cars and assume nobody is going to use a sidewalk that will cost potentially several hundred thousand dollars.

      • Andrew Evans March 8, 2019 at 10:32 am #

        So Sean, just a few questions, more or less from a thought experiment I’m doing while thinking about suburbs.

        All of these large streets and poorly planned building, is it reversible? If the streets are already that large, then wouldn’t the land already be acquired to add a sidewalk or bike path at the expense of the lanes?

        At the same time, do those major roads go places that would be well suited for transit, sidewalks, or paths?

        To me at least it seems the biggest hurdle these days is land (the CA high speed fiasco and even the SW light rail line). Sure some of the suburbs are poorly planned in the form of alternative transit, but wouldn’t a lot of the land already be there in those larger roads?

        For the growth or more density, I believe that will come normally anyway as these cities find room to grow or have a need to expand their tax base.

        Just IMO

        • Sean Hayford Oleary
          Sean Hayford Oleary March 8, 2019 at 10:43 am #

          Yes, for very wide streets, it is usually possible to find space for walk-bike facilities in the existing right-of-way. In commercial areas, the adjacent land is expensive, and although expanding the right-of-way may sometimes be necessary, it is an expensive proposition.

          On 66th Street west of Penn Avenue, they made space for green planted boulevards on both sides of the street by simply narrowing the lanes and narrowing the south side sidewalk. (It didn’t need to be as wide when buffered by the boulevard.) Street View hasn’t been updated, but you can see the before condition.

          Of course, they could have done a much better facility had they been willing to remove the extra travel lanes. (17,000 cars a day and likely could have sufficed with 3 rather than 5 lanes.)

          More broadly, there are books like Sprawl Repair Manual with specific, bold prescriptions for infill in areas designed only for cars. Oftentimes such changes can be a lot less radical. They can be as simple as allowing a gas station in the corner of an oversized mall parking lot, but designing it with decent pedestrian access to do double-duty as a corner store. Or simply encouraging the construction of a mixed-use building (like the terrific one just west of Ridgedale).

          • Andrew Evans March 8, 2019 at 11:14 am #

            The issue though there is on 66th east of Penn they had to tear down houses, some of which to me where pretty iconic – mostly the one with that round turret or whatever it was.

            I’m really surprised that 3 lanes hasn’t caught on more than it does. With all the left turning traffic here in Mpls on Lowry and even Broadway it would make sense to have a dedicated turn lane, and generally make traffic flow a little better.

  4. Andrew Evans March 8, 2019 at 10:27 am #

    I get a kick out of the SW Transit “bus stop” off of 110 and Lexington here in Mendota Heights. There aren’t any sidewalks or trails going along the side of the street the offices are at, and I’d have to check for walk signals but the intersection isn’t setup at all really for pedestrians crossing the street. Not that this is preventing me from taking the bus, but it would be a deal breaker if everything else was even.

    I also generally get a kick out of comments here to totally can the route and move those bus resources somewhere else. I’m not sure if it’s the same people, but we had an article about limited Stillwater service, and there, and I believe they were serious, we had comments about running a train (maybe 2 trains actually, since the EC line didn’t serve downtown) out there.

    So having access to transit is extremely important if an author on here writes an article about how they want to be free to go on an after work day trip, but a waste of money and time if it’s serving a “car centric” suburb. Where are the calls to run the 614 more often, or replace it with light rail or a train?

    • Eric Ecklund March 8, 2019 at 2:25 pm #

      I commented that Stillwater would be a good candidate for regional rail service (half hourly frequency during rush hour, hourly frequency off-peak).

      As I said in the original post, hourly frequency is appropriate for Route 614. What really needs to change is being able to actually get to the bus stop without having to walk in mud or on a snowbank. Allowing transit friendly development in certain areas including Ridgedale, while would take time, will also give Route 614 a boost. While I don’t know how much ridership an Eden Prairie extension would have, I believe it’s worth a look to bridge the operator gap and have major destinations and transfer points on both ends.

    • Monte Castleman March 9, 2019 at 12:18 pm #

      It’s almost like different authors and commentators here are allowed to express different opinions on things, or are allowed to propose things that are infeasible given current funding and political realities.

  5. Matt Steele
    Matt Steele March 8, 2019 at 11:01 am #

    So… a quick search yielded this SWLRT draft SIP which includes some data tables with ridership and cost per rider.
    https://www.leg.state.mn.us/webcontent/lrl/guides/Rail/Draft_SIP_All.pdf

    Looks like 614 has daily ridership of 31 with subsidy per rider of $26.56? Or maybe that’s just proposed marginal ridership/cost for SIP expansions. Either way, seems like we could subsidize Lyft/Uber rides for low-income car-free residents of transit-hostile suburban land uses for far less than providing a bus.

    • Jeb Rach
      Jeb Rach March 8, 2019 at 6:48 pm #

      Or expand and make much easier dial-a-ride transit. I’m not a fan of simply subsidizing Uber/Lyft rides, because there’s lower standards for drivers/vehicles, there’s issues with the long-term sustainability of rideshare services at their current price point, and it makes the system very reliant on the policies of a third party service.

      I’d much rather see Transit Link become easier to use (including using app hailing and ability to get a ride “immediately” versus hours or days in advance) and have the Met Council have all the data in-house. That could identify potential corridors that would work better for either deviated route service or upgrades to regular route service.

      • Eric Ecklund March 9, 2019 at 1:47 pm #

        Agreed about the issues with Uber/Lyft. In addition to making Transit Link easier to use (have a set up like SW Prime), perhaps allow SW Prime to serve along the current Route 614 since the southern terminus of the route is very close to the Eden Prairie border. SW Prime already serves Southdale on Saturdays.

      • Brian March 9, 2019 at 8:13 pm #

        Wouldn’t making Transit Link immediate just make it a taxpayer supplied taxi? Presumably requiring advanced scheduling allows them to plan a route to handle several passengers at once.

        I’ve never even considered Transit Link after reading the rules. It would hard to make it to work at a consistent time if the bus will come within 30 minutes after the scheduled time.

        • Jeb Rach
          Jeb Rach March 11, 2019 at 10:26 am #

          In practice, I’m not sure it works out very well for condensing of rides. Anecdotally, out of the handful of times I’ve taken dial-a-ride services I’ve only had someone else not with me/my group on twice (so maybe 25% of the time?) If anything, I’d imagine having more people using it, plus having the infrastructure set up for real-time rerouting (with the current setup it’s set in advance and so the driver may not be used to having the route change on them last-minute to better optimize pickups) would make it more likely to at least have paired rides.

          I haven’t seen data on how well SW Prime does vs. Transit Link, but if SW Prime has better stats then perhaps the real-time demand/response is better than requiring a pre-scheduled trip.

  6. pam March 11, 2019 at 2:05 pm #

    Even in the Central cities some routes are performing poorly with sidewalks and higher densities .Metro Transit has been cutting many trips on that are performing poorly on some routes .
    On numerous occasions I have seen buses mostly empty why so #614 be different ?
    Stillwater cannot support rail services I rode the midday bus services twice in the past , there are too few riders to justify even running midday services let alone trains.
    I find it interesting people moved to burbs and wanted bus services when most of the far suburbs are not conductive for transit except some rush hours buses at park/ride.

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